Quotation marks are most commonly used to enclose speaker’s exact words, and to set apart words that are discussed.

  • a) Our teacher then asked, “Would you like to go outside today?” (direct quotation)
  • b) The word “thunderstorm” often brings fear among the very young in our group.


A colon introduces a list, a direct quotation, and the end portion of a sentence that is an explanation. It is used after an introductory classification, after the salutation in a formal letter and between numbers in time.

  • a) The following items were bought at the pharmacy: pop, newspaper, and a bottle of hair shampoo.
  • b) I learned the following: I was too old and run down to compete.
  • c) He immediately replied by saying: “I am completely innocent.”
  • d) Her actions made me think of one thing: revenge!
  • e) Dear Lucas:
  • f) Being out in the sun made me think of only one thing: water!
  • g) 3:30 PM


An apostrophe is used to show ownership (possessives—singular and plural), period of time and a sum of money.
It also acts as a place holder for a missing letter. In addition, it is used to construct a contraction.

  • a) Laura’s tennis racquet
  • b) today’s proverb
  • c) three dollar’s worth of sunflower seeds
  • d) anyone’s guess
  • e) don’t, can’t


A semicolon is used to expand or lengthen an original thought and separate clauses in a written sentence.

  • a) My latest attempt to cross the ocean failed; it was a total disaster indeed!
  • b) The excitement was steadily building; I began to run as I kept my eyes on the road.


All correctly written sentences end with either a period, exclamation mark or a question mark .
A period is used at the end of a normal sentence.
It is similarly written at the end of abbreviations, initials and as a decimal point.
Use an exclamation mark to mark the end of sentences in which the writer is attempting to express strong feelings.
A question mark is used after a direct question and to indicate doubt about the accuracy of something.


A comma is used to separate a series of phrases, clauses and words in a sentence; in dates; addresses, to set off interruptions/ expressions and interjections, direct address of one person by another and also in writing of letters.

  • a) In his bag we found the racquets, the tape, and a can of tennis balls.
  • b) January 1, 2001.
  • c) 134 Sunset Drive, New Village, Australia
  • d) I was excited, nevertheless, I tried not to show emotion.
  • e) Laura, come here! f) Dear Paul,